Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba, stated that the ruling ZANU PF party rejected the electoral management body’s recommendations to amend the Electoral Act for the purpose of conducting credible elections.
Chigumba made these remarks on Wednesday during a discussion with election observers in the capital, regarding ZEC’s readiness for the upcoming elections scheduled for next Wednesday. She said:
"ZEC submitted several recommendations requiring alignment of the Electoral Act with the 2013 Constitution through the ministry of Justice and Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
When ZEC wants to make a recommendation to change a certain section of the Electoral Act, we write to the Justice ministry, and attach a copy of our recommendation and we requested that our recommendation be incorporated in the law. The Minister of Justice (Ziyambi Ziyambi) being a member of a certain political party will take our recommendation to his political party and sometimes our recommendations find their way into the law and sometimes they do not.
Some of our recommendations found their way into the Electoral Amendment Bill, but a lot of them have not and we continue to make recommendations."
Zimbabwe has a history of contentious elections. President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged to enhance the electoral process, but the opposition claims that the ZANU PF government manipulates ZEC.
Following the 2018 elections, observer missions urged the alignment of the Electoral Act with the Constitution, among other recommendations. Unfortunately, most of these recommendations were disregarded. The Electoral Act in Zimbabwe clashes with the country’s Constitution in several instances. These include the composition of ZEC, limitations on freedom of expression and media access, and inadequate provisions for voter registration transparency. To address these issues, recommendations have been made, such as aligning the ZEC’s composition with constitutional requirements to ensure independence and impartiality, amending legislation to guarantee freedom of expression and media access, and strengthening provisions for auditing and transparency in voter registration. These recommendations aim to create a more level playing field, uphold constitutional principles, and enhance the integrity and fairness of the electoral process.
Chigumba appealed to political parties, urging them to control their supporters and ensure a peaceful environment before and after the elections. She also expressed satisfaction with the peaceful conduct of the chiefs’ elections and suggested that Zimbabweans could learn from them, highlighting their positive example for maintaining peace during the electoral process.